Cigar and hookah bars – 1/19/09

Q: Rhode Island has a loophole in its Smokefree Workplace Law exempting cigar/hookah bars that derive 50% or greater of their establishment's revenue from the sale of tobacco. As a result, the state has observed a rise in cigar and hookah bars.  RI is trying to develop alternate modes of attacking the issue without opening up their existing Smokefree Workplace Law and minimizing the use of media advocacy which could bring more press to the bars.

  • What strategies are other states using to address the issue of increases in cigar/hookah bar establishments?
  • What approaches have proven most effective in addressing the emerging threat of cigar and hookah bars?

Editor’s note: The following information was submitted by Tobacco Control Network members in response to a request circulated in 2009. Click here for an archive of responses to a similar request circulated in 2005 on states’ regulations pertaining to hookah bars, or click here for additional examples (submitted August 2010) of states’ policy language to regulate hookah use.


  1. Alabama: Alabama does not have any initiatives addressing cigar/hookah use in bars in Alabama.
  2. Arizona: With regards to the question “Cigar/Hookah bars”, the rules pertaining to smoke-free public places and workplaces include an exemption for “smoking bars” in Rhode Island (See attachment: R23-20.10-smoke). The Smoke-Free Arizona Act that went into effect on May 1st, 2007 does not include an exemption for “cigar bar”.  Smoking is prohibited inside all bars and restaurants. You may find more information about the Smoke-Free Arizona Act and the exemptions by visiting our website.
  3. Connecticut: Connecticut also has a loophole with regards to these 'tobacco bars' because the restrictions in the law are tied with permits for the sale of alcoholic liquors (and food).  Anyone who wants to open a 'hookah' or cigar bar only is not covered.   We have been unable to formally address any changes, so we do not have a solution for RI, just wanted to share our situation.
  4. Illinois: Our public act includes hookah bars in Section 10 definitions.
  5. New Hampshire: NH also has a loophole (effective segregation) that allows for these issues to move forward. Things we in NH have done to assist are two-fold.  TPCP wrote extremely strong Administrative rules in support of the NH Indoor Smoking Act.  Partners worked together to move tobacco licensing to the Liquor Commission. That way liquor, alcohol and tobacco laws need to be complied with. If one licence is not complied with the other one is in jeopardy.  We did not have any luck working with our food licensing bureau on this issue. Click on links for additional information:
    Document 1
    Document 2
  6. West Virginia: No specific information from West Virginia on hookah bars. We have these covered by our local CIA regulations.  Plus, the few hookah bars that have been tried in WV have failed miserably within a few weeks.

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